Novak Leak Column Has Familiar Sound
Tue Oct 7 16:18:22 2003
Novak Leak Column Has Familiar Sound
By Dana Milbank
Tuesday, October 7, 2003; Page A23
Let's review: Syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak gets a leak of
classified information from foreign-policy hardliners. The column he
writes causes a huge embarrassment for the Republican White House and
moderates throughout the administration. Capitol Hill erupts with
protests about the leak.
Sound familiar? Actually, this occurred in December 1975. Novak, with
his late partner Rowland Evans, got the classified leak -- that
President Gerald R. Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger were
ready to make concessions to the Soviet Union to save the SALT II
treaty. Donald H. Rumsfeld, then, as now, the secretary of defense,
intervened to block Kissinger.
The main leak suspect: Richard Perle, then an influential aide to
Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson (D-Wash.) and now a member of the Pentagon's
Defense Policy Board and a confidant of neoconservatives in the Bush
administration. The account was described in a 1977 article in The
Washington Post, noting Perle's "special access" to Evans and Novak.
Evans and Novak, the National Journal wrote in 1979, were among the
three "chief recipients" of classified leaks from Perle. "Several
sources in Congress and the executive branch who regard Perle as an
opponent said that he and his allies make masterful use of the Evans and
Novak column," The Post reported 26 years ago. "One congressional aide
who tries to counter Perle's and Jackson's influence on arms issues said
the Evans and Novak 'connection' helps Perle create a 'murky,
threatening atmosphere' in his dealings with others."
There is no indication that Perle, though a prominent administration
adviser, has any connection to the current leak, that of the identity of
a CIA agent. In fact, he does not fit Novak's description of the recent
leakers as "senior administration officials." Perle, through his
assistant, said that he never spoke to Novak about the matter involving
former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, and that he had been unaware of
the identity of Wilson's wife, the exposed CIA agent.
Still, the history of Novak's columns, many of them with juicy bits
of presumably classified information, provides clues about his sources.
Novak has often relied on foreign policy hardliners -- neoconservatives,
in the current parlance -- for leaks that prove damaging to moderates.
Novak himself is sometimes at odds with the neocons, particularly in his
criticism of Israel, but has formed a longtime alliance.
A new liberal think tank, the Center for American Progress, dug up
some past Novak moments that eerily echo the current moment. In 1981,
the BBC reported that Evans and Novak published information from "a CIA
top-secret report" about Soviet superiority in strategic rockets. In
1986, the Los Angeles Times reported complaints about "arms control
opponents within the [Reagan] administration who have leaked
information" to Evans and Novak about U.S. difficulties monitoring
Soviet compliance with arms control agreements.
The paper quoted then-Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dave
Durenberger (R-Minn.) complaining about the "prostitution of national
secrets" and "the frequency with which columns by these two writers are
peppered with sensitive national security information."
In the current administration, Novak has taken particular interest in
the Defense Policy Board, the Pentagon advisory board stocked with "neocons"
and once chaired by Perle. In addition to the board itself, Perle is a
regular fixture in Novak columns, sometimes quoted by name. Others on
the 31-member unpaid board -- including R. James Woolsey, Newt Gingrich,
Kenneth Adelman -- also appear in Novak columns.
Many on the board, in turn, have close ties to senior administration
officials affiliated with the neocons and making appearances in Novak
columns: Rumsfeld; his deputy, Paul D. Wolfowitz; Defense Undersecretary
Douglas J. Feith; Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton; State
Department adviser David Wurmser; and National Security Council
officials Stephen J. Hadley, Robert Joseph and Elliott Abrams.
Of course, the neocons inside and outside the administration, while
likely suspects, may have had nothing to do with the Wilson leak to
Novak and other journalists who chose not to use it. Will the columnist
reveal his sources? Here, too, there is a precedent in Novak's writings.
In July 2001, Novak revealed that newly accused spy Robert P. Hanssen
was his primary source for a column a few years earlier about an FBI
agent who resigned after refusing a demand from Attorney General Janet
Reno for names of secret sources in China. He wrote: "Disclosing
confidential sources is unthinkable for a reporter seeking to probe
behind the scenes in official Washington, but the circumstances here are
No Credit Where Credit Is Due
Polls have shown public opinion toward President Bush souring over
his handling of the economy and Iraq. But an item tucked away in last
week's CBS News/New York Times poll adds insult to injury. Despite three
tax cuts in as many years, only 19 percent said Bush's policies made
their taxes go down. Forty-seven percent noticed no effect, while 29
percent perceived that their taxes have gone up.
"Rush is a great American. I am confident he can overcome any
obstacles he faces right now."
-- President Bush, taking time to discuss embattled radio talk show
host Rush Limbaugh with senior staff on Thursday, as relayed to the
Drudge Report by a "senior administration source."
© 2003 The Washington Post Company
Searched news for CIA LEAK. Results 1 - 10 of about 4,250
CIA leak may not be found: Bush
CIA leak may not be found: Bush
From correspondents in Washington
October 8, 2003
US President George W Bush today cast doubt on the prospects of
finding a senior administration official behind a leak that illegally
identified a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent.
The leak has become the first major scandal to hit the White House,
but Bush told reporters: "I don't know whether we are going to find out
the senior administration official."
"This is a large administration, and there are a lot of senior
administration officials, and I don't have any idea," he said after a
cabinet meeting at the White House.
But he said: "I want to know the truth. That's why I've instructed
this staff of mine to cooperate fully with the investigators."
The White House has given staff until 7am today AEST to hand over
documents related to the leaking of the name of Valerie Plame, the wife
of Joseph Wilson, a former ambassador who had accused the Bush
administration of exaggerating the case for war against Iraq.
The Justice Department has begun a criminal investigation into
accusations that one or several White House officials gave Plame's name
to the media, which quoted senior administration officials. It is
illegal to name CIA agents.
Amid allegations that the leak was an act of revenge against Wilson,
the Democrats have called for an independent investigation into the
Wilson spoke out after he was sent to Niger to investigate claims -
made by Bush in a major speech in January - that Iraq had tried to buy
uranium for nuclear weapons from the African state. The former diplomat
said he had told the administration last year that the claims were
almost certainly false.
For the first time since the scandal broke 10 days ago, Bush
spokesman Scott McClellan named three top White House officials who had
assured him personally that they had not been the source of the leak.
They were: Karl Rove, Bush's top political adviser; Lewis Libby, Vice
President Dick Cheney's chief of staff; and Elliott Abrams, special
assistant to the president and senior director for Near East and North
The three had been named by US media in recent days as possible
sources of the leak.